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DEAR ROCKY LOVE: 4.16.14
JACKSON, WYO -Dear Rocky Love,
Despite Jackson being a fairly liberal town, it sucks living here as a gay 20-something. While there are a handful of other openly gay men, I find myself stumbling around to find someone I can relate to. The straight dating scene is overwhelming, and I feel pressured to act more straight among my friends. I’ve recently had to resort to Grindr, Scruff and even Craigslist to seek out a mate, but most men here remain anonymous, hiding behind profile pictures that depict the Tetons or a sunset. Why do you think liberal Jackson is such a difficult town for gay people to be open and honest about their sexuality?
– Hiding In Plain Sight
I hear this same thing from other young, gay men, and I wish I could put you all in a room together. Hey, wait, that’s an idea! You know what gay guys do in other towns? They organize meet-ups. They MAKE their town gay-friendly. Check out the listings in a publication like Just Out in Portland, Ore., and you will find a brunch gathering or a beer bust for just about every stripe of queer person – from women who play soccer to men who knit (not to mention Radical Fairies and BDSM aficionados.)
One of the reasons Jackson is a difficult place to be open and honest about one’s sexuality is because nobody has stepped up to the plate to organize public LGBT meetings and outings. The only advertised meeting is for PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays), which often becomes the de facto meeting for sexual minorities in town.
For gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, transgender people, intersex people, queer and questioning folks, it is imperative that we do not get stuck in our own closets. When I first moved to Jackson in 2007 (which was a return to my hometown after 20 years of living in cosmopolitan cities), I was nervous about what people would think about my blue-mohawked, androgynous girlfriend and me. However, our comfort being out went a long way to smoothing the discomfort of others. Before long, my girlfriend had charmed our Catholic neighbors, my family and my coworkers. They loved her for the same reasons I did: her humor, her warmth, her intellect and her great taste in music.
Jackson has a long tradition of embracing eccentricity and difference. People are drawn to live here in part because of a shared passion for independence and freedom. Yet it’s up to every Jacksonite to keep open space OPEN for oneself and everyone else.
Last night, I had dinner at the bar at Local. A young butch lesbian chatted among her friends, some of who were obviously straight.
As she made the rounds among different clusters of friends, I felt myself breathing a sigh of relief. It felt a little closer to being in what I consider a normal bar, where people of all persuasions mix. Being open and honest about sexuality is already happening, right in front of our noses.
My advice to you, Hiding, is to stop relying on other people to give you permission to be as out as you want to be. Organize a meet-up. Tell gay stories when you are with straight friends. Make your reality part of everyone’s reality. We have to be the ones to open our own closet doors. May as well do so with the brightest neon rainbow flag you can find. Or if that’s not your style, sexy leather chaps will do nicely, too!
– XO, Rocky Love
Dear Rocky Love is an advice column on dating, sex and relationships in the Tetons. Send your letters c/o JH Weekly, PO Box 3249, Jackson, WY 83001. Or email them to: [email protected]